Forget clawed mutants and moody men of steel. Jake Bible’s Grotesques are the heroes this world needs. Stone Cold Bastards is outright bloody fun. I love zombies, and I’m a fan of the author’s Z-Burbia series, but I think this was much better. It is a gust of fresh air blowing away some of the rancid post-apocalyptic rot pervading the genre.
Sometimes you just want to watch the world burn. If you cannot watch it burn, then you at least want to see geysers of blood and rib-cage battering rams. If none of those are available, chocolate will suffice. Luckily for me, I didn’t need to resort to chocolate. Jake Bible’s Stone Cold Bastards gave me all the head-bursting violence my blackened heart could want.
It also appealed to the teen in me. The one who discovered the show Gargoyles and sat in front of the TV for hours on end, watching the protectors of New York kick evil guy butt. Though you daren’t call the Stone Cold Bastards anything other than Grotesques, it’s clear there is a resemblance. Living stone attached to a sanctuary are moved halfway across the world to America and take up their positions as guardians. These herculean heroes of various proportions are a bit cruder and less puppy-doggish than the Gargoyles I knew and loved, but they have an undeniable appeal. Especially the shotgun toting fairies with mouths that would make a sailor blush.
Though Stone Cold Bastards doesn’t exactly hit the ground running, by the time you’re halfway through the book, you’ve forgotten the real world exists. A literary treat that will have you on the edge of your seat, always ready to do a fist pump and cheer the Grotesques on. Morty and company burst to life in your mind’s eye. As tension builds and the violence becomes almost non-stop, it’s impossible to put down.
And Bible’s world in Stone Cold Bastards is a scary one. There are no zombies, but instead, there are demons. In this new post-apocalyptic world, the gates of Hell have opened and demons are queuing up to take their turns in the meat bags there were inheriting the earth. But human bodies can’t contain the festering rot of evil for long, and as the book opens, there’s only one Sanctuary of uncorrupted humanity left. What makes this so scary, though, is that in this world all it takes is eye contact to become possessed. Bible takes something that we take for granted and twists it effortlessly into something with terrifying consequences.
By the time I was 30 pages from the end of Stone Cold Bastards, I was grinning like a loon. After it had finished, I went full on fangirl squealing and bugging my book-reviewing compadres to put it on their To-Read list immediately. I haven’t shown so much geekish excitement over a book since I read Andy Weir’s The Martian a few years ago.
Even a few days later, I still grin every time I think about the awesomeness that is Stone Cold Bastards. It’s an unashamedly campy, no-holds-barred post-apocalyptic thrill ride that will make you cheer. And maybe do a little Snoopy dance. (Or maybe that’s just me. What can I say? Some gals go gaga for romance, some go nuts for butt-kicking.)